Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Enstrom F-28F, N8627J: Accident occurred May 09, 2021 in Palmer, Alaska

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Talaheim Air Service LLC 

Location: Palmer, AK 
Accident Number: ANC21LA038
Date & Time: May 9, 2021, 14:40 Local
Registration: N8627J
Aircraft: Enstrom F-28F
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Other work use

On May 9, 2021, about 1440 Alaska daylight time, an Enstrom F-28F, N8627J, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Palmer, Alaska. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 sightseeing tour flight.

The pilot reported that at about 1330 he took over as the pilot for Talahiem Air Service, who was providing helicopter tour flights for the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering that was taking place at the fairgrounds in Palmer. The pilot had fueled the helicopter with 25 gallons of fuel, performed a normal start-up, and he then engaged the belt clutch before the passengers for the flights were escorted to the helicopter. The tour flight was conducted around the local area, for about 15 minutes, terminating back at the fairgrounds. The pilot added that, during the accident flight, while returning to the fairgrounds, the clutch disengage light dimly illuminated, flickered, and then fully illuminated. He reported that there was “no vibration and nothing to indicate that there was any problem”, but he prepared for a sudden belt clutch release. As the pilot started to descend for the approach into the fairgrounds, he felt the belt clutch disengage and the engine RPM separated from the transmission RPM, and the helicopter lost engine power to the main rotor system.

The pilot estimated that the helicopter was at about 200 feet AGL and an airspeed of about 80 MPH when he reduced the throttle, bottomed the collective, and entered an autorotation. The approach and flair were normal as he lined up for an open field with about a 13 MPH tailwind. The helicopter touched down with about 15 MPH of ground speed, and the pilot believed the main rotor RPM was low. During the emergency off-airport landing, the helicopter landed on unstable terrain and slid. Subsequently, the nose of the helicopter descended onto the ground, a main rotor blade impacted the ground in front of the helicopter followed by a main rotor blade impacting the tail section just forward of the stabilizers. The tail boom became partially displaced from the fuselage, and the fuselage, main rotor blades, and tail rotor blades sustained substantial damage. The pilot and two passengers were able to exit the helicopter with no further incident.

The pilot added that at the beginning of the flight, the belt engagement felt normal, the clutch snapped into over-center, and the clutch engagement light went out.

The helicopter was equipped with a Lycoming HIO-360 engine. The helicopter has been recovered and a detailed examination is pending.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Enstrom 
Registration: N8627J
Model/Series: F-28F
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft external load (133)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAAQ,230 ft msl
Observation Time: 14:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Wind
Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 18 knots, 140°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 9000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Palmer, AK 
Destination: Palmer, AK

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 61.564116,-149.12691 (est)

A sightseeing helicopter crashed Sunday afternoon near the state fairgrounds in Palmer, Alaska State Troopers said.

“The pilot and two passengers walked away with no observable injuries although the passengers were later transported to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center as a precaution,” troopers wrote in an online statement.

The small Enstrom F-28 helicopter operated by Talaheim Air Service had taken off from the fairgrounds and lost power during a sightseeing tour, troopers wrote. The pilot made an emergency landing in an empty field near Outer Springer Loop, and the helicopter was severely damaged, the statement said. Troopers were called to the scene just after 2:30 p.m.

One of the helicopter’s skids became stuck in the ground on landing; the helicopter rolled on its nose and the rotor cut the tail off, according to an accident notification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Mark Miller, owner of Talaheim Air Service, said the company was offering short helicopter rides during the Alaska Airmen’s Association tradeshow on Sunday. The annual tradeshow features an aircraft show, a market, food trucks and numerous events and activities, according to the organization’s website.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the helicopter to lose power but Miller said an investigation is ongoing. He said he’s thankful everyone is safe.

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